Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The importance of Symbolic Stars (Shen Sha) in Chinese Astrology

In the history of Chinese astrology, and even nowadays, there are many people who argue about the meaning and significance of the symbolic stars 神煞 (Shen Sha). Some deny them, while others say that these stars have their own contribution to Chinese astrology. Those who deny them completely, just don't have a good knowledge of the symbolic stars and lack a flexible look on astrology.

In fact, the symbolic stars have a very important meaning. In the Four Pillars method of Chinese Astrology there are several important aspects: Yin and Yang, the relations among the 5 elements, the heavenly stems and earthly branches, the ten gods (shi shen 十神), the 12 energy states (changshen shiеr shen 长生十二神) and the symbolic stars.

The calculation of the symbolic stars is logically connected to the theory of Yin and Yang, 5 elements, 10 gods theory, Na Yin theory, 12 energy states, the 8th trigrams and I Ching, etc. It is a further interpretation of all these theories and its use and development through the centuries has proven what an exact information they can give. The symbolic stars are like the “leaves” of the stems and branches in the big tree of Chinese astrology.

The problem is that the symbolic stars should not be regarded separately from the whole picture of the horoscope. If one only searches the symbolic stars and forgets about the other information present in the chart (interrelations among the elements, 10 gods, etc.), then one will have a very partial and sometimes even incorrect understanding of the horoscope.

The symbolic stars have many nuances and conditions that should be taken into consideration. For example:

- whether the element of the stem/branch of the particular star is a vulnerable/ needed element (yong shen) or it is unneeded element (ji shen);
- whether the day master is strong or weak;
- what is the situation in the cycles;
- what kind of 10 gods present in the chart;
- what are the energy states in the pillars;
- what other symbolic stars are in the same pillar;
- what other symbolic stars are in the other pillars;
- what other symbolic stars are in the cycles;
- what are the interrelations between the different symbolic stars (they may neutralize each other, etc.)
- what is the energy state of the pillar/cycle, in which lie the symbolic stars;
- etc.

At a first look the system of the symbolic stars may give a sense of an oversimplified and unreliable method, but actually it might be very complicated and at the same time – very precise. The issue is how good and experienced is the astrologer.

We know the importance of holistic, flexible and vivid reading and use of astrology. If one has a dogmatic, wooden, numb approach, if one simply interprets the horoscope just by directly citing the books without a flexible understanding and open-minded thinking, then one will be prone to mistakes and he will not be able to see the whole picture. That's why the astrology is very deep and exact science and at the same time is metaphysical (xuan xue 玄学).

The use of symbolic stars is like drawing the eyes of a dragon. The symbolic stars increase the transparency of the horoscope, so that many things appear more obvious and clear. The symbolic stars can reveal to us very important and precise information about the direction of one's interests, his character, the situation of his family, the functions and use of things, the personal characteristics and peculiarities.

Annie Pecheva

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